Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Dilemma as surfeit of Crusaders fit

Last updated 05:00 09/03/2010

Key Crusaders are recovering well from injury leaving coach Todd Blackadder with a potentially big headache – his starting lineup for Friday's clash with the Chiefs.

Likely to come off the injury list and into consideration this week are Thomas Waldrom and Ben Franks, meaning Blackadder will have a hard job working out his selections, especially when it comes to his loose forward trio.

In Saturday night's 33-20 win over the Blues at AMI Stadium, Richie McCaw started in the No6 jersey while George Whitelock packed down on the other side of the scrum.

Should Waldrom return and take his position at the back of the scrum, it would be expected that McCaw would return to the openside and Kieran Read who filled Waldrom's position on Saturday night would return to the blindside.

However, Blackadder was not keen on nailing anything down too early.
He said he would wait until the team naming tomorrow before making any final decisions.

"Thomas and Ben could both be available for selection this week, but we will have to look at the wider picture when we decide on our final lineup."

Halfback Andy Ellis suffered a knock to the head during Saturday night's match and, despite feeling a little worse for wear afterwards, Blackadder said he was showing no signs of trouble yesterday.

"He was a little bit dazed after it happened but it doesn't seem to be too serious. It will just be a case of taking it slowly and going through the right procedures before deciding whether or not he will start this week.
"We won't be risking him if there is any concern though, there is still a lot of rugby ahead."

Fair champing at the bit to get back into elite level rugby is lock Chris Jack who played 70 minutes for the Crusaders Development Unit at the weekend.

Apart from being a little sore after his return to New Zealand rugby, Jack came through his run around perfectly and, more importantly, pleased Blackadder with the way he played.

"He played very well on Saturday.
"I would probably like him to have another week before he comes back to Super 14 but he was trying to tell me last week he was ready for it without having even played a game, so who knows?"

With international players of the calibre of Jack, Brad Thorn and Isaac Ross along with the ever impressive Sam Whitelock, Blackadder is spoilt for choice when it comes to locks.

The wider training group for the Crusaders was hit hard on the weekend with injuries to two of their players during the Crusaders Development Unit's match against their Blues counterparts.

Hooker Quentin MacDonald has been ruled out for the rest of the Super 14 due to a ruptured anterior cruciate knee ligament. He will have surgery within the next few weeks and may take six to nine months to recover. Captain Ash Parker has a broken bone in his left hand, sidelining him for about a month.

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